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Dec 4, 2006 05:52 PM

Michel Bras / Kai Knives

I'm in the market for a new chef's knife and have been tempted by the Kai/Michel Bras knives. Has anyone road tested these? I haven't seen them in any store in my area in order to try them out.

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  1. Is that $345 for one knife???? You're better off contacting Koki at They're having their holiday sale now and you could buy a really wonderful knife with that kind of budget. I know of no advantage to the titanium on the outside of the knife, it's the edge that cuts. In fact, I believe the outside of a knife should be softer to protect the center of the steel (the edge). It works like a pencil with the softer wood protecting the lead.

    1. Never had one in my hand. However, the big price tag, as far as I can tell, is from a regular $150 Kai knive that is coated in titanium.

      I have tried Kai knives, and think they are typical, Japanese style, design, balance knives. In general, I should admit that I do not like these types of knives, preferring the bowed edge French knives.

      If you want a titanium knife, try:
      I have one of their titanium-coated japanese-style knives on sale for $50, regular retail $175, and I give the titanium thing a big thumbs down: waste of money, and no discernible advantages or good points.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jerry i h

        Man, you really are willing to spend some money. I've had better lock in my years in the kitchen with a nice, but not TOO nice knife. Right now, I am using this Messermeister which was only $100:

      2. Wow. They sure are purty. Let us know your thoughts if you go for it.

        The manufacturer website has more detailed, uh, propaganda:

        1. It's a lovely knife. Now let's talk about why it costs so much because it's basically a Shun Santoku knife which costs about $100.

          The folks at Kai are already capitalizing on the growing interest of celebrity chef designed knives (see their Ken Onion, and Alton Brown inspired series). But they are missing out on the Laguiole knife craze. So it found a Chef from the Laguiole region, took the basic Santoku shape from their knife catalog, coated it with a whisper thin coating of titanium and shaped the rosewood handle into the classic Shun d-shape. To make the look distinctive, it had the knives sent out to a coating firm to deposit an atomic layer of titanium. The titanium coating is there because titanium can take on a rainbow of colors depending on how it is anodized. (Whether titanium lowers the coefficient of dynamic friction between it and the thing you are cutting, I don't know).

          So the question is, are you willing to pay $240 more than the stock Shun Santoku, which is a really good knife, for the rosewood handle and an atomic layer of titanium that has been colored gray? From an asthetic point of view it's a lovely thing, but if that layer of titanium gets scratched it's going to become an ugly knife very quickly.

          13 Replies
            1. re: Theodore

              (me = Non-expert Knife Lover)

              I got a closer look at the Shun Ken Onion knives yesterday and it almost looks like the bolster of the knife, instead of the assymetric shaping of the blade (i.e. one piece), is a separate piece attached to the blade. Is this so? Does anyone think that would diminish the knife in any way?

              1. re: Imby

                Your observation is correct. The Ken Onion knife is a stamped blade with a 1/2 bolster bolted on to each side. It will make the knife very hard to regrind because the bolted on bolster curves forward and it will hit a grinding wheel before the wheel has a chance to grind the edge closest to the handle. It's a real marketing gimmick.

                1. re: Theodore

                  I know that I am responding years after the fact but I just can't help myself... Knives of the calibre of Shun, Katsumi, Michael Bras, etc should NEVER be machine grind for sharpening. They should be sharpened with a whet stone. Where I live there is one particular store that sharpen in store by hand and the cost is between $10-20. They even have free lessons. I find it relaxing so I sharpen all mine by hand at home.

                  As for the MBs. They are gorgeous. I just bought the 11 pc Ken Onion Shun set and saw them on my way out and if I hope to own a set one day.

                2. re: Imby

                  You are correct ,the bolsters are welded and pinned to this knife. This will not dimminish the knife in any way . The bolsters are curved to promote the proper use of this knife . By placing your thumb and forefinger in the recesses of the bolsters and closing your hand naturally around the handle of the knife you will notice that your hand rests very comfortably and securely. If you release your fingers from the handle keeping your thumb and forefinger loosely pinch gripped on the bolsters you will notice that the blade and handle are perfectly balanced as it should be.

                3. re: Theodore

                  I am was willing. I'd like to say that I love my new fish knife. It feels in my hand, like the most well balanced knife I've ever held. Its worth it. These knives are developed by the maker of Shun knives, which is a decent knife company, fairly good, And Michel Bras! Have you seen his Cuisine, Have you read his books,his theorys on food and service He is not trying to rip off cooks and chefs everywhere, trust me. Those knives have his name on them, And just like his cuisine they are almost perfect.

                  P.S. And they dont scratch, remember titanium?

                  1. re: Davecooks818

                    Titanium scratches easily. Titanium is actually softer than steel. Or more correctly, softer than how hard steel is run on knives, since steel can be made soft or hard depending on what it's made for. Titanium's useful characteristics are: non-magnetic (good for mine clearing tools), lightweight, and toughness. The last part, toughness, is what makes it a good tool. Toughness is different from hardness. Hardness gives that ability to resist scratching (as in glass, ceramics, diamond), but it comes with brittleness. Toughness is the ability to withstand being bent, and after being bent, the ability to spring back to original shape. This is what titanium is excellent at. It doesn't make for a good knife, because it can't get hard enough to hold an edge. That lack of hardness means it'll scratch. If your stainless steel knives scratch, titanium will scratch more easily.

                    1. re: Triangular

                      Saying titanium is softer than steel is quite vague. Some titaniums are much harder than some steels.The reverse is also true. You are comparing apples to oranges . Rember this is a titanium oxide /dioxide coating ,quite different than solid titanium. Your last statement is not true. These coatings are very resistant to scratches and abrasions .

                      1. re: Ken Onion

                        Thank you Ken Onion. I sell your knives, own the 8"Santoku and I love putting one of your knives in a shopper's hand. They are wowed by the balance and feel. When I show them the proper pinch and how well it guards your fingers I usually don't have to say anything else. I did have a customer i introduced to your knives and he remarked "you can tell this designer knows hunting knives." I have a nephew who is in culinary school and I plan to buy him one when he graduates. I love my knife!

                  2. re: Theodore

                    All of you guys who respond to this thread and approach the subject from a "utilitarian" perspective just don't get it. Anyone who is in the market for a $300 knife is looking for an aesthetic as well as superior performance. Being a custom knife collector for decades I would say that the majority of my purchases were based on design and feel first and technical characteristics second. These knives began at $1000 and went to $7500. Being an amateur chef for those decades as well, I always bought the best knives made. Starting with Henckels ( if you want a great knife look at the Twin Cermax M66 line) and Sabatier and eventually moving to the Japanese knives, Global and most recently Shun "Kaji". I find these expensive Japanese knives worth the money for their craftmanship, design and unmistakeable edge superiority. Could you be paying more than they are worth? Possibly but if you are on a budget and all you are looking for is an "edge" let price be your guide. As for me I will continue my fascination and obsession with the art of knife making albeit admitedly mixed with a little marketing hype. I saw the Michel Bras knives for the first time today in person and was impressed enough to spend $300 for the 6" utility knife. Since I take extremely good care of my expensive knives I don't anticipate a problem with the titanium scratching and I will most definitely enjoy the experience of using this beautifully made knife.

                    1. re: ddubler

                      You might be interested in in this guy's knives...I've had one for over a decade and love it!


                      1. re: StuartHMB

                        Good luck getting a Kramer original at this point. The wait list is at least a year and the price for a Chef's knife on average is over 1k.
                        I can't say I'm any fan of the Shuns with the cheesy damascus cladding. The handles on the Ken Onion series are just not for me.
                        I can see the attraction on the base Shun line as they are often found at a great price on Amazon.
                        There is a photo of a Kramer original in my profile next to one of the Shun Kramers with the cladding I mentioned.
                        Big difference in quality.
                        Big difference in price.

                    2. re: Theodore

                      Theodore, The benefit of a titanium oxide or titanium dioxide coating has proven it's self in machine tools for years . Titanium oxides/dioxides are extremely wear resistant, reduce drag as well as enhance corrosion resistance. As a machinist /knifemaker I will choose a coated endmill over a non coated endmill every time. The benefit of the coated endmill is obvious to anyone comparing parts. There are several of my sporting and military knives that are also coated with either titanium dioxide ,titanium oxide ,DLC,Tungsten carbide,boron carbide and other coatings and have stood the test of time . They are a little pricier but well worth the extra cost. The durability and scratch resistance of these coatings are far superior to the durability and scratch resistance of the underlying blade steel.

                      BTW, I am not a chef . I am a custom knifemaker /designer/inventor/machinist. I love to cook however my cooking skills cannot compare to a competent chef.

                    3. I agree with Theodore, these look just like the Kershaw Shun line, they just cost three times as much. Just stick with the Shun or some other nice Japanese brand (JCK is a good place to find them), and you can get 3 or 4 really great knives for the price of one of these ripoffs.